I have come to the conclusion that what Nigeria actual needs to confront her myriad problems is common sense. It is not money. So, who will give us common sense even if in form of loan? Many are willing to give us. We also have it. It is only that we have not learnt how to put it to use.
Our problem in Nigeria is that we kowtow before foreign institutions for loans that we don’t need and which will not solve our problems. However, and unfortunately, we despise the common sense that is God’s gift which could solve our problems.
If my conclusion is right, it perfectly explains reasons why successive governments in Nigeria continue to seek foreign loans purposely for infrastructural, industrial and other developments. But disappointedly, the Country is not developed. It is not developing either. To say it is underdeveloping is a factual truth which is not well captured for want of words. This is terrible!
Before the Christian community jumps down my throat, yells or takes umbrage at me, it is apt to make some clarifications. First and foremost, I have many Christians as family members and friends. I have them as neighbours and colleagues and we have had a very good relationship which Islam encourages. In fact, some of them are my partners in worldly success.
In addition, it is the right of any religious community, group or individuals in Nigeria to make pilgrimage to any country of their choice. This, provided government does not bankroll the rite or the journey. This is because Nigeria (as at the time of this write up) is a democratic state. Nigeria is a democracy; it is not a theocracy. I hope this is clear.
Readers should recall that this is the crux of my argument in my article titled ‘Zamfara State Government and its Ramadan Feeding Palliatives: Right or Wrong?’ published about four months ago. In that article, I maintained that what Zamfara State Government needs do is to create jobs so that the dying masses can regain life.
“The states should not have business”, I argued, “feeding people in Ramadan. Mind you, ‘people’ here means Muslims. We should not forget that government moneys are taxpayers’ moneys. And nobody in the present day Nigeria—to the best of my understanding—pays tax for the purpose of Ramadan feeding; not even taxpayers among the Muslims pay tax with such intention.”
Similarly, no Nigerian pays tax so that pilgrims could make it to their destinations. Is it not even funny!? Christian pilgrims to Jordan? Who stole our common sense? Jordan is an Arab country with about 95% Sunni Muslim population. The Country is rightly referred to as an “Oasis of stability” in the war-torn region of the Middle East. The Christian population is just about 4%. How it becomes holy site for Christian pilgrims remains a mystery; if not a joke.
The Jordanian historical antecedent, if at all we invoke that, still does not make any sense. That Christianity was, at some point in history, the state religion in Jordan (when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity) does not make it a holy site. To cap it all, pilgrimage does not exist in Christendom—it is un-Christian and un-Biblical.
Having made these clarifications, it is the right of any Christian to make pilgrimage to any part of the world as far as Nigerian Constitution is concerned despite its un-Biblicalness. Thus, since Nigerian Christians like to observe pilgrimage as Muslims do, this, (to me) is welcome. What is unwelcome is using state’s shrunk resources to sponsor pilgrims like what Bauchi State Government has just done. This is very wrong and must be condemned in toto.
How do you justify wasting public funds on spiritual rites that are personal—that do not benefit the State? What is our problem in this country? Why are we bereft of good ideas that can sprout progress and development? Why are we so infested with regressing ideas such as wasting public money by sending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, and (now) Jordan? Who did this to us? When shall we get it right in this country? Why are our policies always anti masses?
Most of the beneficiaries of this pilgrim jamboree, if not all, will probably be associates of those in government. If it is argued that the masses are also beneficiaries, how has that bettered their lots and improved their conditions? Just imagine indigent students who could not pay their school fees or heads of households who were sent parking for their inability to pay house rent, how would benefitting from government’s sponsorship to Makkah or Jordan solve their problems? Can we, for once, put on our thinking cap?
Since pilgrimage is not Biblical there is no point making reference to the Bible. Though it is Qur’anic; yet the Qur’an clearly states that “Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (Ka’bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah.” Then the Qur’an narrows it to “those who can afford the expenses” (Q3:97). Allah speaks the truth but we, by our actions, prove to know better. Subhaanallah!
Allah, by implication, says pilgrimage is compulsory on those who have the means. This is to say that pilgrimage is not yet compulsory for me and my fellow poor masses because we do not have the means (yet). As if addressing Nigerian stubborn governors, legislators, presidents, the Qur’an says “Say: ‘Will you teach Allah about your religion?’ While Allah knows all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and Allah is All-Aware of everything” (Q49:16).
Allah is aware of our dirty thinking which stations our dear Country in the depth of squalidness (I just pray not permanently). Allah is also aware of our leaders who turn pilgrimage to politics and count number of pilgrims sent to Jordan or Makkah as achievement. This is shamelessness. This is why Nigeria is not developing at all. And we can not develop with this kind of mentality—with this kind of people in government.
All said, I hope our Jordan tourists will tell their sponsors what they saw in Jordan. They should educate them on why Jordanians are not dreaming and will never dream of coming to Nigeria—except, perhaps, on rescue mission. They should tell our government about Jordanian airport, rail system and their transport system generally. They should make sure their reports capture the state of Jordanian hospitals, schools, roads, economy, security network, and lifestyle of their leaders.
My position on Zamfara State sponsorship of Ramadan’s feeding palliatives—referenced above—elicited mixed reactions. Many Muslims (and non Muslims) reached out to me and reasoned along. Yet many of my brothers in faith thought my position needs further discussion—they disagreed. In fact, weeks after the publication, we still have to argue, argue, and argue. Though the experience is tantalizing. Don’t be surprised that those who disagreed with me then, using the same logic, might appreciate my condemnation of Bauchi State sponsorship of Christian pilgrims.
The point is government should desist from channeling public funds towards religious activities since what we practice is democracy. We are yet to switch to theocracy. This may be considered in the deafening noise of restructuring.
I am just thinking; what would be Christians’ or Muslims’ reactions if the idol worshippers in Nigeria decide to incorporate pilgrimage into their rites too and seek government’s sponsorship? They may wish to choose India or China as their holy site. May be then we will understand why government should not fund religious rites.
Let’s just hope these pilgrims’ in Jordan pray for the miraculous release of Bethel students, Islaamiyah kids and other captives. May Allah guide us to put common sense to use.